Bleach 673 is out at MangaStream, go get it.
You can always tell when Kubo thinks that the action has been going on too long and that it’s time for a “breather,” because we get treated to Kubo Humor ™. This time the humor involves Renji and Rukia’s arrival on scene and their reaction to Hot!Hitsugaya, which is to assume he’s his own older brother.
Then we discover that, all along, the Thor fight has been taking place above the main palace where Ishida is facing off with Haschwaldt and Ichigo and Orihime are preparing to do battle with the big bad, Yhwach.
So, a large contingent of the main characters are all in the same place, which will, no doubt fuel further speculation that the manga is going to be over in a matter of months (or 27 chapters, whichever comes first.) First of all, I don’t think it’s any kind of ‘rule’ that a JUMP manga has to end at 700 chapters. Even if Kubo-sensei is being pressured to finish on an even number, that’s still 27 weeks from now, which is approximately 7 months.
I think people are reacting with panic because we’re already to this point:
Our hero is using his signature move… and Yhwach spouting off about how he’s Ichigo’s father, etc., etc. How Ichigo should be grateful or some crap and not be all mad because his mom died, because it’s such a great honor to be absorbed by Yhwach or something.
It’s the kind of monologuing from Yhwach that makes me mutter “blah, blah, blah” while reading it.
The only interesting thing to me about this fight is that I have no clue what Yhwach is using to fight Ichigo with. Black goopy Quincy reiatsu? Left over Ukitake goop? It honestly looks like Yhwach is using Mimihagi, especially when we get to the final panel and there’s the weird droopy eyeballs again:
My general reaction to this chapter was: ‘hahahahaha-WTF?” which doesn’t make for a very substantive review, unfortunately.
A friend and I both said that we thought Yhwach’s final line here was sounding a bit Aizen-y, and that just made us miss Aizen (who is still stuck in his chair) rather than appreciate Yhwach. My friend suggested that she thinks this means that we were never supposed to care much for Yhwach–that he’s a kind of throw-away villain–and that Aizen is, in point of fact, going to be the Final Boss, as it were.
I kind of hope so.
There is very little to me that’s appealing about Yhwach. He’s kind of a good villain in the mold of, say, Voldemort, in that he’s pretty obviously painted with the brush labeled “uncomplicated evil.” Goal = world destruction. For my money, that’s boring af.
And I would honestly slip Kubo an extra hundred bucks or something if he’d spend a couple of panels giving me more of Yhwach’s motivation. Like, I really thought we were on to something fascinating at the beginning of this arc when there was talk about how maybe his was revenge for the Quincy that the Shinigami exterminated in the last war… and I thought maybe we’d get some dark, creepy history of the Soul Society–stuff that might force us to look at favorite characters in a new light (which I always love.) But, yet be complex enough that we could still understand how people we love could get forced to do something objectively ‘wrong’ for the greater good.
But we didn’t go there. None of the flashbacks the Quincy have had over the course of this arc have shown much, if any, connection to the Shinigami or the previous war. Not one of them even seems to be from the same era as Ishida’s grandpa–they all are from some far distant past (except maybe As Nodt, but he’s dead.) No one has any kind of story that might explain why they joined up with Yhwach, beyond Bazz-B, who joined in order to kill him… so, that’s not exactly sympathetic to whatever the f*ck Yhwach is up to.
We have heard exactly ZERO monologues that explain Yhwach’s cause. We don’t know why he thinks the throne belongs to him (except one line in which he obliquely–and POSSIBLY metaphorically–claimed that the Soul King was his father.) We don’t know why he hates the Soul King.
To be fair, we know only a little about why Aizen wanted the throne, but we have a lot clues to piece together… not the least of which is his whole monologue at the end of the rescue arc in which he referred to the Soul King as “The Empty Throne.” Now that we know Aizen was being metaphorical, that takes on more depth. Also, Aizen is unspeakably angry about the Thing on the throne which he can’t even refer to with a pronoun or by the title Soul King. He screams, “Urahara Kisuke! I despise you! With your intellect, why do you do nothing? Why do you obey that thing?” Urahara instantly understands that Aizen has seen the Soul King… which also implies VOLUMES.
When Urahara says there’s nothing to be done because the Soul King is the lynchpin that holds the universe(s) together, Aizen says the most fascinating thing a “villain” could ever say.
Basically, Aizen is SCREAMING to the one man he considers an intellectual rival: YOU MUST FIGHT FOR A BETTER WORLD!
Aizen’s last breath (before imprisonment) is to demand that we MUST speak of the world as it should be, not rest on our laurels and let something inhuman rule us. He’s screaming for the overthrow of an unjust ruler.
THIS, my friends, is what a villain should be. Someone who is very clearly motivated to do wrong for what he imagines are the right reasons.
I got none of this from Yhwach.
So, unless Aizen really is the Final Boss, I think Kubo has a lot of backstory to get writing.
On an administrative note, you have my apologies for being behind on reviewing both Ao no Exorcist and SnK. I’d blame a busy life, but, the truth is, I got caught up playing an on-line role-playing game.